Philippines recovers from deadly quake as tsunami threat subsides

Major aftershocks jolt Philippines after magnitude 7.6 quake
Major aftershocks jolt Philippines after magnitude 7.6 quake (Photo: AFP)

MANILA, Dec 3 – After a powerful earthquake rocked the southern Philippines on Saturday night, killing one person and causing minor damage, authorities lifted the tsunami warnings and allowed residents to return to their homes on Sunday.

The magnitude 7.4 quake jolted Surigao Del Sur and Davao Oriental provinces, prompting coastal evacuations and triggering tsunami alerts in the Philippines and Japan.

A wall collapse claimed the life of a woman who was escaping her home with her family in Tagum city, Davao del Norte province, disaster official Mon Cabonilas reported.

“The Philippines is no longer under tsunami threat from this earthquake,” the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) announced in a statement, but advised people in affected areas to follow the guidance of local authorities.

Disaster official Antonio said that all evacuees in Carrascal, a coastal town in Surigao del Sur, had gone back to their homes. “We are prepared in case we need to evacuate again,” he told DWPM radio station.

Phivolcs recorded more than 600 aftershocks and cautioned people to be careful as they resumed their normal activities.

The Philippine Coast Guard alerted all its vessels and aircraft for possible deployment.

Julita Bicap, 51, a front desk staff at GLC Suites hotel in the seaside town of Bislig, said that they returned to their homes early on Sunday, but were still nervous because of the aftershocks. “They are still happening even now. We were at the evacuation centre last night, along with my two foreign guests. One of them has already come back to the hotel,” she told Reuters, adding that she saw a small crack on the hotel’s front wall.

The aviation agency reported minor cracks on wall tiles in some regional airports, while authorities noted minor damage to homes.

The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre measured the strongest aftershock at magnitude 6.5.

The Philippines, which lies on the “Ring of Fire”, a zone of volcanoes and seismic activity around the Pacific Ocean, experiences frequent earthquakes.

Phivolcs’ Hinatuan-Bislig Bay station detected maximum waves of 0.64 metre (2 feet). The Japan Meteorological Agency reported waves of 40 cm (1 foot 4 inches) on Hachijojima island, about 290 km (180 miles) south of Tokyo.

The U.S. Tsunami Warning System had initially warned of waves as high as 3 metres (10 feet) above the normal tide level.

The quake, which occurred at 10:37 p.m. (1437 GMT) on Saturday, had a depth of 25 km (15 miles), according to Phivolcs.